Caps can't solve Lehner in shutout loss to Golden Knights


The Capitals fired 34 shots on goalie Robin Lehner, but could not get one past him in a 1-0 shutout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday.

Here are some observations from the game.

Blueline additions

The Caps played last game without three of their top defensemen with John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Nick Jensen out. On Monday, Washington got Carlson and Orlov back and both played very well. Carlson did a good job of cutting off passing lanes and poking the puck. Orlov played a high-energy game and was a presence in the offensive zone. He had a redirect opportunity hit off the post early in the third and drew a trip from Keegan Kolesar as Kolesar stuck out his leg when Orlov pulled out a nice spin move.

Carlson finished the game with 24:07 of ice time, Orlov with 23:24. Think the team missed these guys?

Better defensively than you might think

Getting two key pieces of the defense back, you may have been disappointed with the stats. On Saturday, the Caps allowed only 22 shots on goal to the Senators in the entire game. On Monday, Vegas has 23 shots on goal through the first two periods. Vegas would finish with 29 shots on goal for the game, but it wasn't as loose defensively as you might think. The Caps did a very good job of keeping Vegas to the perimeter and limiting their opportunities.

Here's a heat map through the first two periods of the game:

So while Vegas was still able to get pucks on net, Washington really limited their opportunities in a strong defensive performance.

Missed opportunities

The turning point of this game came in the second period. Just 33 seconds after Michael Amadio tucked a puck into the net from behind goalie Vitek Vanecek, Evgenii Dadonov was called for interference against Connor McMichael. Off the next faceoff, Brayden McNabb sent the puck over the boards giving Washington a 5-on-3 opportunity for 1:57. The Caps had opportunities and tallied three shots on goal, but could not get one by Lehner.

There were many instances like this. Very early in the game, Alex Pietrangelo slipped and gave Nic Dowd a breakaway which was turned aside. Washington kept up the pressure in the second with the 5-on-3 and later in the second, Lars Eller was denied on a shorthanded 2-on-1 break.

You have to give credit to Lehner for his performance in this one. He was brilliant with 34 saves.

More power-play woes

The Caps were 0-for-5 with the extra man on Monday including a long two-man advantage.

All things considered, the power play didn't look that bad in this one and was able to get eight shots on goal on Lehner. But when the power play has struggled for this long (30th for the season at 14.8%, 13% since Jan 1), moral victories don't matter. You have to score and even one power-play goal would have changed the entire course of this game.

It's been a while

Monday was the first time the Caps have been shut out this season. Their last shutout loss came on May 1, 2021 in a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was also the first shutout of the season for Robin Lehner and Vegas.

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